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The Arbiter

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Desmond Huggins was a castaway. Under his own roof, by his own family. A job in Colorado had teared it all apart, and he was sure there was nothing he could do to change that. To Desmond, the job was always more important; it would replace the evening meal or delay a weekend, all of which he never gave back. He had once found love under the shade of an old oak tree, in a park in Atlanta, to a girl named Sophie. This was the very same girl who, ten years later, had thrown him out of their home. The scene at 40 Aston Grove that fateful night was, to say the least, horrific. Surely not something they wanted their two children seeing, but nonetheless, they did.

The stench of rotten food, strewn across the floor had woken him up, launching him from his bed, also covered in rotten food. It was Monday, and while others rushed to get to work on time; Desmond however, didn't. Staying in bed seemed like a much better idea. Just three days had passed since his wife had thrown him out, and not a single day was spent in his own self confidence.

He dreamt of the hot summer afternoons he had spent under the old oak tree that had spawned his first love, rays of blissful sun shone through the spaces between branches and onto the crisp pages of the books he had been reading. But of course, that was a world away from the life he had now, in a makeshift apartment; the only light in that place was from the television that had been left switched on. Still half asleep, Desmond staggered to the door, and with every ounce of strength from the curry he had eaten the previous night, he opened the door.

"Why, good morning Desmond!" Exclaimed Morgan, sitting in a chair as he folded up his newspaper in two, upon seeing Desmond.

Desmond immediately recoiled, then let out a shriek, for seeing a man just outside the door at an unholy time in the morning did not come as a pleasant surprise for him.

"Who are you!?" Demanded Desmond, as he studied Morgan.

They would get along just fine.

***

"So, you're some kind of 'decider'?"

"Well, i do believe I am. But more importantly, I like to think that I put the world on a better course by changing people's actions, provided it's only in someone's mind. basically, I'm the epiphany, the thought in someone's head that changes their mind." Explained the man, totally relaxed in what he was saying.


"So why have you come to see me?"

"To stop you from making the biggest mistake of your life. I'm here to give you an offer, one which nobody else gets."

***

"You see that."

"Is that...me?"

"Yes, Desmond. The night which you probably want to forget. You were there for a reason. Now, watch."

"But how? How did you do this?"

"See, look. That's you. Ouch."

"The night she threw me out. I can't watch anymore. Please." Signaled Desmond, turning away.

"Hurts, doesn't it? Who knew that just five minutes ago, you had come home to a welcoming family. That was before you told them, of course."

"I didn't know it would turn out that way, if i had just turned down the offer..."

"But, you see, no one always does know how it 'turns out'. Instead, we just choose one of the many millions of choices we have in front of us. Now, let's rewind."

Reaching his hand out, Desmond was quickly pulled away by Morgan, who signaled him not to do so.

"That's quite dangerous. Trust me, you won't see your hand on the other side. That's just not how space-time works."

"But wait, I didn't tell her?"

"No, this is a universe where you made the decision not to tell her. A wiser man, huh?"

"I guess so."

"One thing to point out, that in either universe, you cannot take on both the job, or your family. Either, you will die alone but with a successful career under your belt, or a loving family by your side."

Morgan stepped closer to Desmond, looking him straight into the eyes, with not a single expression upon his face.

"So Desmond, which are you going to choose?"




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